Country singers and extraterrestrials

Published 9:15 pm Wednesday, June 4, 2014

This is a buffet column — a little bit of everything.

“E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” was alternately portrayed by three special effects models and by three young actors, including 12-year-old Matthew de Merritt, legless since birth.

I don’t think there’s intelligent life on other planets. Why should other planets be any different from this one?


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Roughly on that subject, former president Jimmy Carter said he saw a UFO in ’69. It’s a non-partisan subject. Ronald Reagan saw two UFOs. As a matter of fact, he invited Steven Spielberg, producer of the “E.T.” movie, to a special White House screening, at one point whispering to him, “there are probably only six people in this room who know how true this is.”

Milking that fascinating subject, Dr. Bernard Oliver of the SETI project remarked on the possibility that an “interconnecting galactic community of advanced cultures already exists.” Taking that a step further, science writer Ian Ridpath has speculated that there could be as many as one million advance civilizations, “like ourselves or more advanced.”

Scoffers? Remember that many people doubted we’d put a man on the moon.

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I was rummaging through some old photos and came across one with me wearing a cowboy suit. That was in Fort Madison, Iowa, when I was emceeing shows for one of the Midwest’s western swing groups of the ’60s, Wade Patrick and the Santa Fe Riders.

Speaking of music, Ricky Van Shelton was an outstanding country singer who enjoyed performing, but he was not much for the limelight. I lost track of them, but members of his family lived in Suffolk. Are they still here? They were a neat crew.

And that brings me to a “small world” story. We had a couple of their kids with us as we were in a mall. We ran into my sister-in-law, a major fan of the singer, who was wearing a Ricky Van Shelton T-shirt. When I told her the kids were a niece and nephew, she wouldn’t believe me. Belief came when the youngsters piped up.

As I said — it’s a small world.

Country singer, and all-’round nice guy, Clay Walker, has a room in his house dedicated to Bing Crosby. About a year after he told me that, he returned to Hampton Roads. This time I met him with a couple of old, rare Bingle recordings, for which he was really grateful.